There’s nothing more disheartening than going out to your garden and seeing damage to your beloved plants from a puny enemy. In fact, some of the least suspecting insects can be the most destructive. At Yard Butler, we’re passionate about handling these pests organically, so as not to damage the local ecosystem, pets, or children. Here are some of the most common garden foes, and how to keep them from destroying your garden.
Perhaps the most common garden pest is the aphid. These insects are harmless in small quantities, but larger infestations can destroy otherwise healthy plants. Aphids come in many different colors, but most are extremely small and don’t grow larger than ¼ of an inch. You can also identify them by their pear-shaped bodies, and lack of wings. Even though they’re plentiful and destructive, aphids can be managed relatively easily. If you blast them with your hose often enough, they should dissipate in numbers until they’re completely gone. You can also employ the help of some ladybugs, which eat up to twenty-five aphids a day.
Snails and slugs will eat nearly anything, but their favorites are the most commonly grown garden veggies: cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. If you have a snail infestation, you can easily lose your produce overnight. There are many methods to curbing snail damage, but the most effective (and organic) method isSluggo. Sluggo uses iron phosphate which is highly effective at killing slugs but won’t harm anything else.
These big, green, spotted caterpillars are aptly named for their love of tomatoes. Eventually, they will burrow and emerge as large brown moths, which are great pollinators. Unfortunately, if they make it to your tomatoes while they’re still in the caterpillar phase you’re in for a battle. Keep an eye out for munched leaves, and small droppings on the top of tomato leaves. In the same spot, look at the bottom of the leaves and odds are you’ll find a big hungry caterpillar. This is where you need to be ruthless. A pair of scissors will quickly take care of the pest, or for longer-term maintenance make your garden a bird oasis with aYard Tree Bird Center. They will happily take care of the caterpillars for you.
Whiteflies are a warm weather-loving foe to the gardener. They are small like aphids, but they are white (shocker) and have wings. They also like to feed on any warm-weather crops, but can be found on indoor plants in cooler climates. If left unchecked the whiteflies can hinder the photosynthesis of your plants, and cause leaves to wilt and fall off. To control a whitefly infestation you can treat them similarly to aphids and blast them with your hose to stunt their lifecycle. If the infestation stays the same or worsens, you should cut back the infected parts of your plant and continue the spray method.
Experienced gardeners know that ladybugs are a major predator of aphids and whiteflies. This makes them great friends in the garden. However, there are some insects that are commonly mistaken for ladybugs that aren’t the ally we know and love. Asian Lady Beetles look similar to ladybugs but are much more ferocious and invasive. The lady beetle will bite, excrete a foul-smelling liquid, and invade your home if given the chance. To tell the difference look at the insect’s head. If you spot a white “M” shaped marking, that’s an Asian Lady Beetle. They also tend to be larger and can range in color from red to orange. They can even be lacking their spots altogether. The Asian Lady Beetles aren’t much of a problem for your garden, but they can be troublesome to your home. Seal off any entry points if you start to notice an infestation.
Knowing how to handle these five common garden pests will make you a more skilled and effective gardener. Remember to be a vigilant and patient opponent, and you will win the battle of the garden with ease.
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